Lesson by Sabina Kariat, taught at the Spring Learning and Growth session for Workshop Teaching Artists in February 2021.

Patterns exist everywhere in life. There are physical patterns, like the tiles in your bathroom or the spikes on a pinecone. There are artistic patterns, like the beats in a song or the use of colors and shapes in a painting. And there are thought patterns — subconscious cycles of thinking that can color the way that you view everything in the world around you.


Patterns are all about repetition. The things that we do again and again become easier and more intuitive for us. This can be helpful when we’re trying to learn something new, like how to play an instrument or speak a new language. But it can also be negative, like when it reinforces systemic problems in our society like racism, heteronormativity, sexism, or classism. These patterns can be very hard to break, as they can be internalized in ways that aren’t part of your conscious awareness.


Disruption is the process of breaking patterns. By disrupting a pattern, we can help draw attention and spark change.

To explore the idea of pattern and disruption, we’re going to use the medium of comics! Comics are all about patterns, in the form of color schemes, typefacing, and physical panels separating individual moments into a coherent narrative. By breaking these patterns, we can create urgency and emphasis in our visual storytelling, compelling the reader to want to learn more.



  • Paper
  • Writing implement of your choice! Pen, pencil, colored pencils, markers, crayons, etc…



  1. At the top of your page, draw an organized pattern of panels. Leave space at the bottom.
  2. Around the panels write a sentence about a time in your life when you disrupted a pattern! This could be a cycle, a routine, a system that you challenged, a thought process that you stopped — any experience that inspires you. If you want you can fill in this sentence “I interrupted the pattern of __________ when ____________.” For example, “I disrupted the pattern of silence when I stood up for my friend at school.”
  3. Draw images to fill the panels. You can literally illustrate/sketch the moment you are describing in your sentence or you can try to fill the boxes with abstract shapes and colors that recall these feelings of repetition, pattern, restriction, etc…
  4. Now it’s time to disrupt those patterns! Leave behind the pattern of panels and draw into the empty space at the bottom of the page. You can literally illustrate the moment you are describing in your sentence or you can draw abstract shapes and colors that recall the feelings of disruption, change, and leaving behind patterns. Think about liberation, interruption of the norm, release from confines, surrender of structure, and try to capture this visually however speaks to you.